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Discussion: Survey: course design non-competition

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 19, 2016 6:36 PM # 
Now that the course design non-competiton for setting a Long at Otter Creek park has progressed through the submission stage and much of the review and comment stage, I'd like to seek opinions on the non-competition (including never again! my AttackPoint from these threads) from those willing to offer them. Indicate your thoughts in this survey, and feel free to add other comments below in this thread.

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Apr 20, 2016 4:56 AM # 
Apr 20, 2016 12:14 PM # 
Thanks for the answers to date. I've been poring over and analyzing. I'll post the results to date tomorrow (I didn't set any end date), and my sense of what the consensus seems to be at that point, as well as thoughts on how to turn that into a path forward.
Apr 20, 2016 3:08 PM # 
Since there wasn't an opportunity for open comment as part of the survey I will add a suggestion here:

Some of the future competitions should include a specific challenge as part of the course setting process to get people thinking about different aspects that don't always come up but are sometimes included in higher level events.

A few options:

  • Include and outline a warm-up map area (the course can't go through the warm-up map and the warm-up map needs to be on the way from the arena to the start)

  • Include a map exchange

  • Include a spectator control or leg

  • Include a butterfly loop

  • Include two radio controls (these need to be in locations close to and with a line of sight to the arena so the radios will work)

Apr 20, 2016 3:22 PM # 
I ran out of questions in the survey (maximum ten for free surveys), which is why I didn't include a free form "any other comments" question in the survey, deciding to use this thread for that purpose instead. Thanks for your excellent suggestions.

As a slightly related aside, I've been wondering about perhaps starting each non competition with an informal "course setting clinic" on the thread, tailored to the format of the next non competition, before moving on to people designing courses to submit. The "clinic" might include links to useful resources and guides, as well as posts by anyone with thoughts or discussion about important characteristics of the format, or of course design itself, or so forth. I don't know whether there would be interest in that, but I'm considering trying, and welcome any thoughts on the topic.

And if others have additional thoughts about the course design non competition, please post here or email me, as you prefer.
Apr 20, 2016 7:41 PM # 
I wanted to participate in this, but the maps don't show up in my browser (Firefox). I've hit a super busy stretch at work so might not have participated anyway, but I wanted to look at the courses people designed and couldn't and didn't have time to try to figure out the problem. Anyone have any ideas why I can't see the courses? I get a big long window, but it's just blank.
Apr 20, 2016 7:59 PM # 
I came here to say the same thing as Sandy. I didn't necessarily get blank windows, but parts of the maps were missing or distorted in Firefox.
Apr 20, 2016 8:07 PM # 
I agree - I'm not a huge fan of the method used to display the courses. A .jpg (or other format) image would be better as they are super standard and viewable on all browsers.
Apr 20, 2016 8:11 PM # 
Sorry, at a glance I don't see anything on the DocDroid web site, which I used to host the maps that I embedded in the threads, that lists issues with FireFox or other browsers, nor compatibility info (but to be frank, there isn't much info at all). I did post links to all submitted courses hosted at a different free PDF hosting site in the main "Course design - Long F21 at Otter Creek" thread, here. Did those work?
Apr 20, 2016 8:24 PM # 
No, those didn't work either. I would get the map but not the course and I would get an error message. Perhaps it is a Windows issue or perhaps a work firewall issue since I can get the maps when using my tablet, but I when I to spend time looking at maps I usually use my larger laptop which has a bigger screen.
Apr 20, 2016 8:52 PM # 
Hmm, that's odd, since one hosting site is, I think, rendering the PDF, and the other is simply serving it up (but I could be wrong about that, and haven't had time yet to investigate more deeply). The embedded DocDroid PDFs don't trigger my Chrome PDF viewer, which always requires my OK to run currently, so I'm thinking that DocDroid does more than simply ask the browser to render it using whatever plugin the browser may have, and instead does rendering server side (my guess). The other PDF hosting site just lets you download the file, I thought, though since it's PDF-specific maybe it's doing something else. Can you see the Download button in the upper right of the embedded DocDroid PDFs? Or can you install Chrome or Edge or Opera?
Apr 20, 2016 9:16 PM # 
I´ve had the same problem - sometimes just seeing a blank page and sometimes a map with white streaks in it. I tried downloading one of the latter and to my surprise it actually worked just fine...

As a side note I can mention that I´ve regularly studied the courses (the ones I can see) and read the comments but not (yet) gotten around to submitting or commenting any myself.
Apr 20, 2016 9:26 PM # 
I could look at hosting image files given that a number of people are having trouble. The image files will be huge in order not to be pixelated when zoomed in, which is their downside. I also need to investigate how to embed them in a way that zooming is easy, and they start zoomed out (sorry, I'm not up to date on this, and just doing some quick googling).
Apr 20, 2016 11:00 PM # 
I noticed that some maps at your pdf hosting site didn't have the course if I opened them with Adobe. But, I have a different pdf viewer too and the courses did show up when I opened it with that. I am not a computer expert by any means but if I were to guess, it had to do with the way purple pen created the pdf.
Apr 21, 2016 12:49 AM # 
I've converted some PDFs (created by PurplePen) to JPGs with acceptable results. An 11x17 map became a JPG around 2.5 to 3 MB. Although there was some pixelation when zoomed in, it was definitely adequate for course review.
Apr 21, 2016 1:15 AM # 
I think that what I'll do is embed the PDF as now, and provide a link to the image file on my Flickr page, which lets one zoom in and out easily.
Apr 21, 2016 1:29 AM # 
I had trouble opening the original map file with the Adobe viewer. So I wonder if the problems people are having are because of some issues with that particular file. It may be worth doing tests with other maps or other pdf files in general before thinking about switching to jpg or other solutions.

I like Canadian's suggestions about including additional challenges. As for "course setting clinics," I think it will be more fun if people first submit their courses and then these courses are used to discuss course design issues, rather than the other way around.
Apr 21, 2016 2:19 AM # 
Interesting; I use Seamonkey which per my understanding is similar to Firefox, and I had no trouble viewing any of the maps.
Apr 21, 2016 4:06 AM # 
Yes, a simple JPEG would work much better.
Apr 21, 2016 10:05 AM # 
ocad->jpeg is awful, though. At least up to ocad9.
Apr 21, 2016 12:51 PM # 
I was encouraging of the activity, and think I've at least recognized my issue in not submitting... I wasn't in love with the map.

Ok - sure, you have to be able to host events in locations and on maps that you're not particularly fond of - because there are only so many places to go.

But you wouldn't try to host a national competition on your club's less desirable venue. And so it felt contrived in a way to put the course on that map. (And I accept that this is my issue, not any one else's;-)

That we were able to get good courses on it was really a statement to the course setters collective ability to see into the map in ways I had not.

Another way to go might be this - given some particular map, design the best event you can for it... Local / National, short, long, score-O, thomass...
Apr 21, 2016 1:13 PM # 
For 0cads, to make 300 dpi image (more than good enough for course review over the web) export 750 dpi bmp image. Then use something like GraphicsMagic to do the final conversion.

gm convert exported.bmp -geometry 40%x40% -type palette +dither final.png

That spell resamples it down to 300dpi, converts it to 8bit (max 256 colors) without dithering.

A4 map will be about 1 Mb depending on how detailed it is. Far better quality and smaller file size that what you get with jpg. Never use jpg as intermediate file (export as jpg) for compression artifacts and larget final file size (for bits used to store those artifacts).
Apr 21, 2016 1:15 PM # 

Full results

Thanks to the 24 respondents to the survey (as of this posting), and to the many who posted thoughts above.

Respondents indicated strong interest in the course design non-competition overall, and its various aspects, though less so in analyzing and commenting on course designs.

Largely respondents reported that the time available to submit or comment was adequate or plenty, and that it was easy enough to review and comment on courses, but some reported difficulty or too little time.

The median response on desired interval of non-competitions was four times a year, although with only a vote or two differently, the median could have been thrice a year, and so I'll read the results as "three or four times a year".

The preference was for an AttackPoint group, rather than public threads, although a couple of comments were along the lines of "what's a group? how does that work?", so it'll need some explanations.

I've ordered the course formats below by (descending) interest, calculated as the number somewhat interested plus twice the number very interested. Apologies for the formatting; neatly formatted full results linked above. The first group has strong interest (at least half the respondents very interested), and the second group has some good interest (multiple people very interested).

Format, Somewhat interested, Very interested, 2 * Very interested + 1 * Somewhat

Middle, 3, 19, 41
Long, 6, 16, 38
Sprint, 7, 12, 31

Forest relay, 6, 8, 22
City orienteering (non sprint length), 6, 6, 18
Two day Classic, 7, 4, 15
Ultra-long , 7, 3, 13
24 hour rogaine, 7, 3, 13
Sprint relay, 7, 3, 13
Corn maze, 4, 4, 12

Ski, 8, 1, 10
12 hour rogaine, 7, 1, 9
Mountain bike, 7, 1, 9
Canoe, 5, 1, 7
Snowshoe, 3, 1, 5
Mountain marathon, 4, 0, 4
SCUBA, 2, 0, 2
Apr 21, 2016 1:50 PM # 
Thoughts on way forward:

Looking at the results of the survey and the comments above, as well as previous comments throughout the non-competition and before, my thinking on the way forward is roughly as follows:

Continue with more non-competitions three or four times a year, gauging interest as it goes. Based on my schedule, I might start new non-competitions mid-June, mid August, mid January, and so on, or perhaps shrinking that to mid July, mid January, mid April, etc. Of course, if someone else cares to organize a non-competition, then the dates could be more evenly spread around the calendar.

I'm thinking Middle next, then Sprint, then Forest relay. I realize that I should have included beginner and intermediate courses as formats, and it may be worth including those formats as well in some non-competition. Adding in a Canadian-suggested constraint could be a good mix-in. Start suggesting good Middle maps that we might be allowed to use.

I'm thinking of continuing the same format of one thread per submitted course, but on an AttackPoint group, which I'll create and announce. I'd continue the same use of PDFs, which are easy to embed in a useful way, with a link to an image file for those needing it, unless someone with knowledge can suggest a way to embed an image file in a way that works well for this purpose.

I'm pleased that the first non-competition submissions received detailed comments from several countries around the world. I'm worried that fewer people are interested in reviewing courses than reading comments or submitting, so I'll watch to make sure that we're not overtaxing willing reviewers by holding too-frequent non-competitions, or too many entries. It's a bit of work to do well, especially with many entries, and I thank those who shared their thoughts.

Next time, I'll give a submission deadline as something like "end of June", and people can submit as long as it's still June somewhere in the world, but I'll also take late entries up to a point. I'll start posting submissions in (say) early July, even if one or two late entries are still coming in.

I'll post submissions for review every 48 to 72 hours, depending on things like weekends (when people may be off orienteering or something), number of comments on the previous posted submission, and my schedule. I may post in an order that's not simply A to Z (per request, and risk of lots of Aardvark Aardwolf (or Zebra Xylophone) entries), but probably not fully random, to keep it easy. Perhaps something like starting somewhere arbitrary in the middle of the list (as MJChilds did with her reviews) and proceeding alphabetically (or reverse alphabetically) until all are reviewed.

Further thoughts from participants, or those interested in participating in the future, are welcome.
Apr 21, 2016 10:17 PM # 
I thought this exercise went very well, exceeding my expectations, which were frankly somewhat sympathetic to the Aussie yahoos yelling "meta-O".

This is why I am disappointed to hear of the preference for taking this into a "group" setting. Maybe I need some education on how an AP "group" would function, but I 'd like to lobby to keep this activity in front of as many people as possible. That is where the real educational value lies.

To put this activity within a secluded group of already interested and knowledgeable people provides very little O value, besides self amusement in virtual O. Far better for the sport, if all involved were working on real O events as setters/consultants/controllers/vetters.

@ccsteve- I am very curious how the real world experience of this venue is less desirable than it looks on paper. Mapping? thick vegetation?

I thought the map provided was very interesting, and yielded a worthwhile, highly educational discussion for anybody new to the process. I would like to see that experience repeated, exposed to as many people as possible, not less.
Apr 21, 2016 10:55 PM # 
I did not answer the survey (which did not parse well on my iPad, and I didn't bother to boot up my computer to say I only looked at the first few courses), but agree with EricW that it should probably be in the main discussion threads and not in a separate group.

Anyone NOT interested in the discussions can easily hide the thread(s) by clicking on the x in the first posting of the (offending/not interesting) post.
Apr 21, 2016 10:56 PM # 
I think I agree with EricW - I'm not sure of the benefits of going to Groups and I'm a little worried we might lose something by it.

Also I want to bring up a brilliant suggestion that was submitted (by me) in the survey "comments". The survey "comments" I think got a little bit lost in the voting as they would only ever manage one vote ;-) I thought it would be super cool to do a WOC course planning contest in, say June, using old maps of the upcoming WOC terrain. This would encourage more interest in WOC (if that is possible) and we'll be able to compare to some of the best course planners in the world afterwards. I also thought it would be very cool to do a ski-O thing in early winter - to encourage more skiO.
Apr 21, 2016 11:29 PM # 
I hear you Eric (and Janet and Adrian)...I'm of much the same mind, but was going with the majority, and based on earlier suggestions of a group. If I hear from some others, I may reconsider the idea of a group. It does sound easy to hide uninteresting threads. Typically, about four of the top ten public threads shown on my main page were about the course design non-competition.

I'm sorry that I missed that comment Adrian...I saw another of yours, and a number of others' comments on various questions, but still can't see that comment that you mention. Doh. Anyway, sounds like a good idea. Since the top national teams seem to map the WOC Sprint venue ahead of time, maybe we can find some LIDAR and O-map the Long or Middle area from afar even if it hasn't previously been O mapped.
Apr 22, 2016 12:48 AM # 
Slightly off topic but I don't recall seeing any comments by F21 people. I wonder if they just didn't bother to comment or, if they are just used to doing what they are presented with, doing the course leg by leg, without much concern about the entire course being "good" or not?
Apr 22, 2016 1:00 AM # 
In my experience, elites only comment on courses immediately after they've finished, and invariably it's with frequent use of the term 'bullshit'. :)
Apr 22, 2016 2:13 AM # 
Oh dear.
I have too many friends in elite categories to laugh ;-)

But it does bring up my Number One Rule of Course Setting (NOROCS)...
as a course planner never listen to anything anyone says within 10 minutes of crossing the finish line.
Apr 22, 2016 2:45 AM # 
The reason I voted for groups is that I thought it would be more convenient if the links to all the submissions and other threads related to the "non-competition" are listed together. Right now, the links to the courses disappear too fast after being posted. If I need to refer to a course that was posted a week ago, I have to click on "more" and then scroll through a lot of unrelated threads. But I don't feel very strongly about it, either way is fine.

Automatically generated maps of WOC 2016 terrains have just been posted by the organizer:
Apr 22, 2016 3:18 AM # 
Rather than make a group, why not ask Ken to make you a new category? Or 'Discussion Section', or whatever you want to call it. :) (on the right)
Apr 22, 2016 3:21 AM # 
+1 to Adrian's WOC comment. It also has the side benefit of helping out national team athletes prepare by studying these courses.
Apr 22, 2016 3:29 AM # 
OK, so let's pick one of those WOC maps for the Middle non-competition. Maybe M21 this time. I'll start that in mid June. I may ask Ken what he thinks about groups versus other options.

This discussion thread is closed.